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Finding one’s feet on uneven ground

Interaction between human and technology: Researchers of the Chemnitz University of Technology develop new application possibilities for robots

How can a robot support humans at work? How can robots and humans communicate? How does a robot navigate without help on uneven ground? Over the course of the past three years, scientists of the Chemnitz University of Technology and the HTW in Dresden have worked together on that interdisciplinary project. They investigated methods for the use of mobile robots in unstructured areas such as construction sites. Focus of the project: the interaction and cooperation between human and robot as a support for transportation, navigation and surveillance tasks. Leader of the project is Prof. Dr. Guido Brunnett, Chair of the Professorship of Computer Graphics and Visualization at the Chemnitz University of Technology. The project was funded during its duration by means of the Saxon Ministry of Science and Arts (SMWK) with approximately one million euros. The final workshop recently took place at the Chemnitz University of Technology.

Robot "walks" on uneven terrain

“Until now, robots were primarily used in specifically for them designed areas in factories”, says Prof. Dr. Peter Protzel of the Chemnitz University of Technology. His Professorship of Process Automation investigated the realization of navigation and environment recognition. “Uneven terrain as you find it on construction sites with gravel paths, puddles and changing situations was a real challenge.” A significant result: “We were able to achieve substantial progress in the autonomous navigation”, Protzel concretizes. The research robot “Deimos” autonomously scanned its environment and developed a map on the base of his recorded data in order to locate and head for humans or objects on the construction site. A control center supported the robot and gave it tasks and further information on its environment. “The connection of an autonomous robot with a central control center is one of the most important unique characteristics of this project”, Prof. Dr. Wolfram Hardt, Chair of the Professorship Computer Engineering at the Chemnitz University of Technology emphasizes. His professorship realized the control center that served as a central data-assembly point and took on the management of the robot’s tasks and processes.

Operated by gesture

Another focus of the project: the intuitive communication between human and robot. The team of the project realized a Touchpad-based interaction concept and developed solutions for the immediate communication via language and body gestures. “The long-term goals is to achieve a communication with a robot as with a human being. In the course of the project “H-Roc” we were able to teach a robot to understand gestures that are fundamental for our human communication”, Prof. Guido Brunnet explains. The construction site robot “Deimos” for example is able to understand the pointing gestures “Come here!” and “Stopp!”. Further commands are planned.

Background:

Robotics is one of the most innovative and promising research areas. In various research projects in the course of the joint initiative “RoX – Robots in Saxony” robotics is pushed forward in Saxony (see robotsinsaxony.eu). The Saxon’s Ministry of Science and Arts financially supports the initiative. One of these projects is located at the Chemnitz University of Technology “H-RoC- Human Robot Cooperation” and was closed with a workshop on February 9, 2017. The involved researchers presented their results and discussed further topics that might be promising in the field of robotics. The research results can be viewed online. A demonstration video is linked on the YouTube channel of the Chemnitz University of Technology.

Further information on the project is available from:

Micha Fiedlschuster, Interdisziplinäres Kompetenzzentrum “Virtual humans”, phone +49 371 531-30302, e-mail micha.fiedlschuster@informatik.tu-chemnitz.de

Prof. Dr. Guido Brunnett, Speaker of the Kompetenzzentrum, phone +49 371 531-31533, e-mail guido.brunnett@informatik.tu-chemnitz.de

 

Matthias Fejes
17.02.2017

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